It goes without saying that in the present day, it is impossible to deny the substantial impact of the coronavirus pandemic on education. According to the report presented by the United Nations (2020, p. 2), COVID-19 has already created “the largest disruption of education systems in history, affecting nearly 1.6 billion learners in more than 190 countries and all continents.” The spread of the virus has caused the closure of all types of academic facilities all over the world. In general, it affected approximately 94% of the student population across the globe with almost 99% in lower-middle and low-income countries (United Nations, 2020). Thus, COVID-19 and the related crisis have exacerbated pre-existing education disparities and substantively reduced educational opportunities for a vulnerable population. In other words, the majority of children, adolescents, youth, and adults who live in rural or poor areas, refugees, and people with disabilities currently face difficulties with affordable education. This paper examines the consequences of the pandemic, its effect on education, governments’ response, solutions, and essential riles for post-COVID education. According to its findings, coronavirus has an immeasurable negative impact on global education and probably has changed it forever – as a result, it is highly essential to implement new practices, guidelines, and regulations in order to provide its quality level for future generations.
Consequences of COVID-19 in Relation to Education
The consequences of academic facilities’ closure worldwide due to the pandemic are immeasurable. Despite the fact that learning losses will definitely impact modern students, they “also threaten to extend beyond this generation and erase decades of progress” (United Nations, 2020, p. 2). In those countries where the gender gap remains a crucial issue, the limited educational access of girls and young women will contribute to already existing inequality. In addition, due to the influence of COVID-19 on the economy, approximately 24 million children and youth may withdraw or stay without access to schools and other educational facilities next year (United Nations, 2020). Moreover, the educational crisis caused by coronavirus has considerable effects beyond education as well. The closure of schools reduces the provision of highly significant services to children and all communities they are living in. For instance, access to healthy nutritious food is limited, the ability of the majority of parents to work is negatively influenced, and, as previously mentioned, in particular places, the risk of violence against girls and women increases.
However, it is necessary to admit that governments generally responded to the impact of the pandemic on education in a time-sensitive manner to ensure the continuity of the learning process and provide safety both for students and teachers. For instance, a considerably wide range of various distant learning tools, such as online education, educational radio and television programming, and printed materials distribution, is introduced in multiple countries across the globe (United Nations, 2020). At the same time, a prevalent number of children and adolescents either do not have access to sufficient Internet provision or necessary devices for study or do not have experience in remote digital learning. As a result, more than half of parents are not satisfied with the academic progress of their children during the pandemic (CBINSIGHTS, 2020). Nevertheless, despite the occurrence of challenges connected with the evaluation of students’ results, a lack of students’ and teachers’ knowledge related to the use of technologies, and unequal learning modalities provision, distant learning anyway supports the educational system during the crisis.
At the same time, as the spread of the virus is currently inhomogeneous, there are attempts to reopen schools nationwide. It goes without saying that this reopening will be inhomogeneous as well – either by prioritizing exam classes on the basis of grade level or through localized openings “in regions with fewer cases of the virus” (United Nations, 2020, p. 17). There are several approaches that will be potentially taken by reopened educational facilities in order to close the gap in education caused by COVID-19 and provide safety to the members of the educational process:
- The implementation of a “hybrid” model. In other words, education will be provided as a blend of distant learning tools, including online learning management software and video conferencing tools, and learning in the classroom (CBINSIGHTS, 2020);
- The continuation of fully remote education for the 2020-2021 school year (CBINSIGHTS, 2020);
- The substantial reduction of class sizes;
- The constant wearing of masks by all teachers and students or the provision of lessons outside in countries with the suitable climate in order to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 infection;
- Global changes in the education system or school structure. According to the joint survey conducted by the UNESCO-UNICEF-World Bank with 54 countries involved, 23% of states are planning to increase class time, 23% will recruit more teachers, 32% and 64% want to introduce accelerated learning programs and remedial programs, respectively, and 62% are planning “to adjust the scope of curriculum content that will be covered” (United Nations, 2020, p. 17).
In general, the use of technologies for partly remote education remains the major trend in post-COVID-19 education (Teräs et al., 2020). This tendency is determined by the development and implementation of distant learning tools that have already existed before the pandemic accelerated these processes (CBINSIGHTS, 2020). Such companies as Google, Microsoft, Nearpod, and Top Hat are currently involved in the creation of learning management systems and hardware appropriate for remote schooling (CBINSIGHTS, 2020). At the same time, despite its main advantage related to the prevention of the virus spread, online learning has substantial drawbacks that should be considered as well.
First of all, remote studying makes students more vulnerable to distractions such as chatting with friends, surfing the web, and responding to emails. As a result, they will not be able to digest the material in the same way they do it in the classroom. Another important issue is the impact of the use of digital devices all day long on students’ mental and physical health (CBINSIGHTS, 2020). This problem becomes more crucial taking into consideration the fact that, according to a Gallup poll in 2020, approximately 30% of students have been already struggling mentally or emotionally due to various pandemic response measures (CBINSIGHTS, 2020). In addition, younger children may experience a negative effect of a lack of interpersonal and tactile skills essential for socializing and their general harmonious development.
Rules in Post-COVID Education Scenario
Nevertheless, it is impossible to deny the fact that the pandemic has inevitably changed the education system on a global level. Never before in the history of mankind, has the world jumped into the technological sphere for learning (The University of Chicago, 2020). Governments should accept these changes and adapt to them in order to continue providing quality education to people all over the world. As a matter of fact, several essential rules for post-COVID-19 education that should be considered for public actions may be defined:
- Education should be regarded as a safe and accessible common good for all individuals regardless of their socioeconomic status, place of living, race and ethnicity, health condition, and gender (UNESCO, 2020);
- Teacher collaboration and the teaching profession should be valued lime never before;
- All modern technologies for online learning should be accessible both for students and teachers;
- Scientific literacy should be ensured within the curriculum to fight misinformation;
- International and domestic financing of public education should be protected by governments, development partners, and international organizations (UNESCO, 2020);
- Schools’ social spaces should be preserved – no matter how the world is changing, the perception of schools as specific separate space-time communities is highly important.
CBINSIGHTS (2020) Education in the post-Covid world: 6 ways tech could transform how we teach and learn. Web.
Teräs, M. et al. (2020) ‘Post-Covid-19 education and education technology ‘solutionism’: a seller’s market’, Postdigital Science and Education, 2, pp. 863-878. Web.
The University of Chicago (2020) COVID 2025: how an explosion in remote learning changes education – Randal Picker on COVID 19. Web.
UNESCO (2020) Education in a post-COVID world: nine ideas for public action. Web.
United Nations (2020) Policy brief: education during COVID-19 and beyond. Web.